Goddard Space Flight Center


NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the oldest and largest space research center in the United States. GSFC builds spacecraft, satellites, and technologies to study the sun, outer space, and other planets in the local solar system. It was founded on May 1, 1959, and is currently home to Hubble space telescope operations. GSFC will also be home to the headquarters of the James Webb Space Telescope. [1] GSFC is primarily focused with the operation and study of the known universe rather than satcom or FSO.



Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, is the world’s most famous satellite. It has operated for over 20 years and has produced an incredible amount of finds relevant to both astrophysics and astronomy, such as the rate of expansion of the universe. The satellite operates in the ultraviolet to near-infrared waveband. GSFC operates and controls the satellite while the Space Telescope Space Institute (STScI) chooses Hubble’s targets and processes the data.


James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Its primary function and purpose will be to observe light from distant galaxies to understand the nature of the beginning of the universe. JWST will observe the creation of life, the birth of stars, and the assembly of galaxies using infrared light. It will have the capability to observe light up to the helium ionization period of the universe’s formation, answering key questions about the Big Bang. [2]



ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite 2) is a satellite operated by GSFC that uses free-space optics time-of-flight calculations to measure and detect the elevation differences on Earth’s surface. ICESat-2 operates at 10kHz, sending a laser pulse to the ground once every 10 microseconds, allowing the satellite to map the ground once every 28 inches. [3] The key focus of the satellite is to measure the elevation of ice sheets, sea ice, and other frozen areas of the globe collectively called the cryosphere. ICESat-2 also measures the stock of vegetation in the planet’s forests. It was launched in 2018 and has a three year lifespan.

The satellite has incredible precision, capable of measuring the change in ice thickness over time to within 4 millimeters. After combining data from ICESat-2 and ICESat-1, research scientists will be able to predict cryosphere behavior for 16 years.